History of Albanian Air Force Military aviation started in Albania in 1914, when the Albanian government ordered three Lohner Daimler aircraft from Austria to form the Albanian Air Corps. As a result of the outbreak of World War I, the order was cancelled. Albania did not have the resources to restart the development of a proper Air Force during the 1920s and 1930s.
After World War II, the Albanian Air Force finally came into existence when Albania was equipped with Soviet aircraft. The first squadron was equipped with Yakovlev Yak-9s. The first jet fighter to enter service was the MiG-15, dating officially the 15th of May 1955, followed by the MiG-17. Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean conflict. The backbone of the Albanian Air Force jet fighters became MiG-19, NATO code "Farmer". 12 MiG-19PM were delivered by the USSR in October 1959 and on the same year pilots and specialists were sent in USSR to train with the allweather interceptor MiG-19 PM. After the collapse of USSR-Albanian relations, significant numbers of Shenyang J-6 fighters (Chinese copy of the MiG-19S), were delivered from China. In the early 70s, Albania exchanged its lot of Soviet made MiG-19PM (NATO code "Farmer-E"/beam-riding missiles equipped), with 12, more advanced, Chengdu J-7A fighters (Chinese copy of the Soviet built MiG-21). Two of them were lost in incidents in the early 70s, eight had problems with lack of batteries in the early 80s.
In total, during the 70s and early 80s, the Albanian Air Force was able to deploy 72 Shenyang J-6C, 12 Chengdu J-7A, a fighting squadron equipped with 12 MiG-17, a considerable number of MiG-15 (both BIS and UTI versions), and 4 Soviet made transport aircraft Il-14. A squadron of Shijiazhuang Y-5 was deployed in Tirana and the Air Force Academy in Vlora had 2 squadrons of Yak-18 for basic pilot training purposes. The Helicopter component consisted in 37 helicopters Harbin Z-5 based in Farka Tirana, meanwhile there was a single prototype of a light H-5 bomber based in Rinas. A Shenyang J-6C fighter Agusta-Bell AB205 Air Force Colonel Niko Hoxha, considered by many as the best Albanian pilot ever. Died during a military exercise with his Shenyang J-6C on November 1965 70s. Four Shenyang J-5 of the Albanian Air Force and the H-5 Bomber This Mig-15 trainer fled Albania during the riots of 1997 and landed in Italy at the military airfield at Galatina, near Lecce. The airplane was not detected by the Italian radars thus creating political tumult in the Italian Parliament on the capability of the Air Defence systems. Both pilots have asked for political asylum.
Due to relations collapse between Albania and the Chinese, maintenance became extremely difficult and the number of deadly incidents involving Mikoyan fighters increased. Despite Albanian efforts and some initial success in repairing and converting the engines of the MiGs, the lack of specific jet fuel forced the Albanians to start production in a national scale, but without having the proper technological know-how, thus resulting in a low-quality production (The first attempt dates on 1961, when the Kuçova factory produced the special Jet kerosene called TSI). Such fuel conditioned the life-time of the jet engines and often was blamed as the main reason of the deadly incidents (35 Albanian pilots lost their life from 1955 to 2005 mainly due to MiG's mechanical failures). In the early 90s, in an effort to keep the MiGs flying, the Albanian Air Force received spare parts from Bulgaria and engines from the ex-GDR. As of 2004, Albania still had 65 J-6C aircraft, although most were not operational and only 2 Chengdu J-7A in flying condition . The Albanian fighter jets were definitively withdrawn from active service in late 2004 after the last deadly incident involving a J-6C during take-off from the military area at Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana. Since November 2006, the Air Force operates in a new structure, the Albanian Air Brigade, which is part of the Albanian Joint Forces Command. Currently, the Albanian Air Brigade does not operate any fixed-wing aircraft but exclusively helicopters. Part of the same Brigade is also an Air Defence Battalion equipped with 37 mm Antiaircraft artillery. The MANPADS have already been retired from active service on 2008, due to aging factor. The high-altitude surface-to-air HQ-2 - Hong Qian missiles, a modified version of the Lavochkin S-75 (Russian С-75, NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline), have also been withdrawn from service. 4 Shijiazhuang Y-5 are currently in service, aiming to a small future parachute capability for some of the country's elite forces.
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2009 14:41:17 GMT -5 by insomniac
In total, during the 70s and early 80s, the Albanian Air Force was able to deploy 72 Shenyang J-6C, 12 Chengdu J-7A, a fighting squadron equipped with 12 MiG-17, a considerable number of MiG-15 (both BIS and UTI versions), and 4 Soviet made transport aircraft Il-14. A squadron of Shijiazhuang Y-5 was deployed in Tirana and the Air Force Academy in Vlora had 2 squadrons of Yak-18 for basic pilot training purposes.
Racially speaking, most photos show Mediterraneans(of Hellenic origin), Alpines(southern Albanians) and few Nordics(of Illyrian or Slavic origin) but where the Dinarics are??? Probably Mediterraneans, Alpines and Nordics, representing Albanian military forces, looks better than Dinarics.